The word “noise” comes from the Latin word, “noxia,” meaning hurt or injury. When a sound is unpleasant or annoying, we call it “noise.” There are several reasons why a sound becomes a noise:
* Our attitude about the source.
* The activity we are engaged in at the time.
* Whether or not we can control the sound.
* The “messages” contained within the sound.
* The intensity and length of time we are exposed to the sound.
After years of research, it was discovered that residents living in close proximity to busy airports can experience serious health issues. To fully understand how aircraft noise can impact the human body, we must first take a brief look at how our senses deal with sounds in the first place.
When sounds enter our ears, the signals are sent directly to the brain. The brain responds to the sounds by releasing certain “stress” hormones. These hormones are a natural way for the body to cope with the brain’s interpretation of a potential threat.
Three of the main hormones are:
* Adrenaline and noradrenaline = both of these hormones are responsible for the human “flight or fight” response to sudden, unexpected sounds. They trigger a quick boost in muscle response and raise our heart rate. The excretion of these hormones usually only lasts for short periods of time.
* Cortisol = this hormone is released in response to prolonged periods of stress. Noises that are more long-term in nature or are out of our immediate control induce an increase in stress levels, resulting in more cortisol production. Excessive stress and the changes that result from cortisol release have an impact on our bodily functions over long periods of time.
While our brains can usually override the release of these “stress” hormones and consider the noise just bothersome, thereby allowing our levels to return to normal, sometimes our hormonal reactions are out of our control. Chronic stress levels result in an excessive amount of hormone production, which has an impact on bodily functions.
Health Risks Associated with Aircraft Noise
* Hearing loss.
* Increased/elevated blood pressure.
* Increased heart rate; heart disease, coronary problems, and strokes.
* Disturbed sleep patterns.
* Affect children’s ability to read, listen, solve problems, memorize, and result in poorer performance in school than others living in quieter areas.
* Can impact those already suffering from mental illnesses, primarily anxiety or depression.
* May reduce the effectiveness of the body’s immune system.
* Limited evidence suggests that lower birth weight in babies may be caused by continued exposure to aircraft noise.
The higher risk groups include children, the elderly, and individuals with noise sensitivity. They are the most susceptible to noise-related health issues. The long-term affects on children are unknown at this point but elevated blood pressure levels during childhood usually result in blood pressure issues in adulthood.
For more detailed information and specific research data on aircraft noise studies and health issues: